Earlier this week, on my post about Practice the Way You Play, there was a very astute comment by Mary H. She asked, "How much credit do you give for right answer and how much credit do you give for showing work?"
I briefly responded to this question in the comments, but I wanted to expound on that as well as get other people's take on the issue.
Personally, I think that showing work -- computations, notes, labels, etc -- especially on math problems, is a vital skill that kids need to learn AND utilize. To me, it is absolutely no good if a child turns in a test or a homework with all of the correct answers, but no work shown. I'm not convinced (especially on a homework) that that child knows how to do the problems and didn't just copy off of someone, guess luckily, or get someone else to do it for them.
I'm not someone who tells kids, "I don't care if that's the way your mom taught you to do it, you have to do it MY way or else!" I certainly prefer that kids do the work the way I've taught them, and the way we've practiced in class, but if they come in and say they learned some other way, I'm ok with that -- as long as that work is clearly shown! Only then can I see that they followed the correct procedure and mastered the concept.
I often employ the strategy of "camoflauged grades" on tests. In other words, I sometimes put one grade in my gradebook and different grade on a test. If I am trying to emphasize the importance of doing a particular set of steps, then (with ample advance warning) I will take a few points off here and there on a child's test for not showing those steps. Their grade visible on the test will reflect those deductions. However, I usually give them credit for correct answers (work or no work) in my grade book. During a test, I KNOW that they're not getting the answers from someone else -- I keep a close eye on the kids during a test -- so I want their grade to accurately reflect their answers.
I can recall times when a student has scored a 100 in my gradebook (all answers correct), but had a 65 written on their test!
What do you think of this? As I ask the kids, agree or disagree? How do YOU try to emphasize the importance of showing work?